We are in March of 2023 and one of the hottest new releases in the games industry is Resident Evil 4. One of the fastest selling Nintendo games is Metroid Prime. Counter-Strike has a new entry releasing this Summer. The Nintendo eShop on Wii U and 3DS is shutting down in a matter of hours, and my personal Wii U console has bit the dust until I can get around to learning how to solder.

It’s as if time turned back about a decade or so, and I have no problem with this. The games mentioned prior have stuck around in people’s minds since they released a decade or two ago. Remakes or remasters make complete sense to make a game more easily accessible to today’s audiences (within legal means, that is) while also allowing for those who experienced them back at launch to see their favorites in a slightly new light.

The eShop shutdown has me booting up consoles I haven’t touched in years, playing games online that hardly work (Looking at you, Steeldiver: Sub Wars.), and in general being reminded of what life was like around a decade ago.

For perspective, 10 years ago I had recently gotten ahold of a PC copy of Minecraft. This would be a month or two before the release of version 1.6 added in Horses. There was no recipe book, biomes were so dang basic you could see all of them without much effort, and caving was a fun, albeit visually bland expenditure. The most recent Smash Bros. title was still Brawl on Wii, having released about 5 years prior. Smash for 3DS and Wii U was still about a year away from release. CoD was dealing with whatever was going on around Ghosts (I still have yet to mess with anything beyond the first two entries in that series) and Dishonored had only been out for about a year. 

It feels close, yet far away at the same time, doesn’t it?

I am not at all against an excuse to revisit games of the past like this, but I cannot help but find it bizarre that this many remakes/remasters/whatever you call them are releasing within this year alone. As mentioned earlier, there is a place for these kinds of titles, and I often find them inoffensive at worst, however there comes a point where it just seems bizarre that the option to just buy the older games isn’t available anymore, especially when you are shutting down two storefronts with no alternative options to purchase dozens, if not hundreds of games. There are private archives, (the legality of which is still debated in some cases,) which do help in these situations, however they are far from optimal easy access to titles in a method your average consumer would be able to understand. The fact is, though that there currently is no other option for owners of 3DS and Wii U consoles. The latter of which has been in the news due to recurring hardware failures that can outright brick the units.


Rebuilding Memories

Over the last couple of weeks there have been alarm bells ringing off online regarding Wii U units outright failing due to a NAND error. To keep this issue simple, a critical component within the system is randomly failing due to age or disuse. It is fixable, but requires one to have applied homebrew (community-written modifications) to the system ahead of time to back up the data stored within that specific component. I’ve operated my Nintendo consoles in stock formats 100% of the time. There’s definite advantages to modding these systems, but 10 years ago I cared not for these options and was just happy to be able to play my games when I wanted to without issue.

Of course, that attitude has completely shifted with the eShop shutdown and this hardware failure issue making a homebrew install necessary to even keep the thing running.

I’d do it, if my existing Wii U wasn’t somewhat bricked already. About a year ago I was greeted with the system failing to send sound over its HDMI output. Within an hour, the picture was gone. I left the console to sit, unplugged for a good while after this out of fear that continual power may lead to further problems, as it had been sitting idle for a year or so at this point.

This issue is often due to an IC (integrated circuit, a specifically designed computer component) that handles HDMI output dying. Upon attempting to boot the system up within 24 hours of writing this, I was greeted with a different error code: 160-1400. This code supposedly denotes an issue with the Disk Drive of the console, yet I have been finding cases where it is not at all related to the disk drive, but rather a small fuse leading to said disk drive.

I have never used a soldering iron before, but if there’s any time to pick that up, it would be now. I have parts in the mail, a Pinecil soldering iron en route, and nothing but hope and some smaller practice projects to get this figured out. Expect updates on this adventure in a future post. Without this being repaired, I will have no way to make use of the original hardware in non-legally-grey manners, and personally, I’d rather keep hardware going as long as possible before throwing in the towel.


The Repair Cycle

My 3DS console had its R trigger button fail after either too much Mario Kart 7 or otherwise just outside of a year from the console’s recipience. Nintendo wanted nearly $90 to fix the thing, and being a 14-15 year old kid with no income, this seemed ridiculous. After a year or more of dealing with unreliable triggers, I ended up breaking into the system to fix the thing up myself. This used money earned from chores and the like to fund the parts, while a gifted toolkit granted me access to the internals of the device. The original model 3DS is my first personal console repair, coming after replacing a fan in my similar vintage MacBook Pro.


My first foray into practical, focused soldering will likely be my personal Wii U unit, after getting familiar with the craft via some practice boards and project kits. I look forward to it, and to sharing more details about the process with you all.


In the meantime, play like its 2013, or 2003. The time is right to question if right hands come off and if right buttons are replaceable.


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